Since its inception in 1974, Greha has concentrated on the growth of knowledge in the field of environmental development, habitat design and architecture. The thrust of Greha's efforts have been towards addressing issues of the majority of the population; the foucs was the marginalised people in rural and urban settlements; the vehicle was developing knowledge and methodologies concerning settlement systems more suited to our history and cultural context.
In recent times there has been a growing concern among some of us that the profession of architecture has been marginalised in society. This is especially surprising since the country has been going through a period of heightened activity in the infrastructure sector.
We feel that architects have not been able to project themselves as useful and essential partners in the development of infrastructure in this country. This is a result of a lack of understanding within the profession of its significance in the building sector, possibly encouraged by the lack of intellectual rigour in professional practice.
Norms of architectural practice have been institutionalised through the Indian Institue of Architects and the Council of Architecture. In recent times both these organizations have become moribundand are promoting mediocrity and dubious practices. We cannot see at present an institutional framework that can re-examine professional norms and practices to direct architectural endeavour towards achieving excellence.
In an effort ro address this situation, initially by promotion an intellectual discourse about these issues, we met as a discussion group twice in the last three months. The first meeting was seen as a convivial gathering in the nature of an 'Architecture Club'. Noting a level of seriousness in the discussion, the second meeting was convened to modify the forum towards initiating an 'Architecture Collegium' which could examine ways of raising intellectual awareness within the profession at first and eventually spread this awareness to society at large.
It was proposed that the Architecture Collegium will hold meetings, on a monthly basis, to discuss and dialogue on various aspects of architecture in its theoretical constructs. Design professionals can present papers, critiques or introduce ideas on which discussions can be generated. The Architecture Collegium is a voluntary and self - engaging forum.
The collegium meeting on the 5th of September 2014 was led by Archana Gupta, who recently wrote an open letter regarding institutional teaching of architecture. She is an academician as well as a successful practicing architect.
To quote a paragraph from her letter:
"As individuals we have our sense of identity – any good institute also requires itself to have one - to be able to take a stand regarding what is it we see as the future of our profession & what kind of architects are we interested in giving our community - I see no such stand by most architectural institutes in India and if I am wrong and these institutes have clear agendas regarding what they consider important in architecture then it is even more disturbing. "
She ended with a question, "what are we going to do about it?".
The meeting was attended by professionals from various age groups - from a fresh graduate to eminent academicians - and resulted in an interesting dialogue between the people who run the educational system and those who are at the receiving end of the same.
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art
Vivan Sundaram is a painter/artist who works in many different media, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, installationinstallation and video artvideo art, and his work is politically conscious and highly intertextual in nature.
Vivan Sundaram presented a set of ideas which have been developed through some of his recent installation which were on display at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. He walked through the exhibition with the collegium members while recounting his artistic concerns. After the walk the collegium members and the artist sat in one of the galleries and discussed the concerns presented by the artist as well as the questions raised.